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Monk chat: Questions about reality and attaining liberation

Monk chat: Questions about reality and attaining liberation

Short videos from a Q&A session hosted by Empty Cloud Monastery in 2022.

Questions covered:

How is an arhat defined in the Vajrayana tradition?

  • An explanation of different Buddhist traditions – clearing up confusion about what the Vajrayana tradition is
  • Two sets of obscurations on the mind: afflictive and cognitive
  • An arhat has eliminated all the afflictive obscurations and is free of samsara
  • The Buddha has done that and also eliminated more subtle defilements, the cognitive obscurations
  • Buddha as all-knowing vs omniscient

Why do things that are empty of inherent existence seem so solid and real?

  • Ignorance totally misapprehends how things actually exist
  • How things appear to us and how we grasp them is erroneous
  • Understanding the object of negation
  • Being criticized or insulted is a good point to start to analyze the “I”
  • There “mere I”, which is not inherently existent, but merely designated

Is there an objective physical reality or is it just a mental impression?

  • If there were, everyone would see things exactly the same way
  • We think there is, and it’s the source of a lot of problems in the world

Is everything we experience the result of karma?

  • Different systems of causality: physical world, chemical, biological, psychological, and karmic causality – different, but connected
  • The principal way we experience karma ripening is through feeling (not exclusively)
  • Karma does not cause things like earthquakes, but affects whether and how we experience them

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

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